Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont unveiled a bill Friday to give most Americans $2,000 a month for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.
How it would work: The legislation, called the Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act, would provide direct payments of up to $2,000 a month to individuals who make less than $120,000. The payments would start to phase out above $100,000. Married couples filing taxes jointly would get $4,000, and parents would get $2,000 per child for up to three children. The plan would be retroactive to March and continue for three months after the Health and Human Services Department has declared that the public health emergency had ended.
The payments would go to all eligible U.S. residents regardless of whether they filed a tax return or have a Social Security number. The bill would also forbid debt collectors from seizing the relief payments.
Why the senators says it’s needed: The CARES Act passed by Congress in March provided for one-time Economic Impact Payments of up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples, plus $500 for each qualifying child, with full payments limited to those earning up to $75,000 ($150,000 for couples). The trio of senators behind the new bill say those payments are not nearly enough to get households through the crisis.
“Bills will continue to come in every single month during the pandemic and so should help from government,” Harris said in a statement. Markey added: “Providing recurring monthly payments is the most direct and efficient mechanism for delivering economic relief to those most vulnerable in this crisis, particularly low-income families, immigrant communities, and our gig and service workers.”
The political lens: “This is one of several COVID-19 related proposals Harris has introduced while she's been rumored to be a potential vice presidential pick for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden,” CBS News’s Tim Perry notes.
Republicans unlikely to back more relief payments: Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the one-time direct payments authorized by the CARES Act would cost $293 billion. This proposal would obviously cost far more, making it unlikely to find much support among Senate Republicans, many of whom have expressed wariness about additional coronavirus spending.
Some Republicans objected to the first round of direct payments and several have indicated that they strongly oppose the idea of additional stimulus checks. “Well, people in hell want ice water too,” Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana said when asked about another round of checks, according to The Hill. “I mean, everybody has an idea and a bill, usually to spend more money. It’s like a Labor Day mattress sale around here.”